Platinum group minerals (PGM) in the Falcondo Ni-laterite deposit, Loma Caribe peridotite (Dominican Republic)

Abstract

Two Ni-laterite profiles from the Loma Caribe peridotite (Dominican Republic) have been investigated for their platinum group element (PGE) geochemistry and mineralogy. One profile (Loma Peguera) is characterized by PGE-enriched (up to 3.5 ppm total PGE) chromitite bodies incorporated within the saprolite, whereas the second profile is chromitite-free (Loma Caribe). Total PGE contents of both profiles slightly increase from parent rocks (36 and 30 ppb, respectively) to saprolite (∼50 ppb) and reach highest levels within the limonite zone (640 and 264 ppb, respectively). Chondrite-normalized PGE patterns of saprolite and limonite reveal rather flat shapes with positive peaks of Ru and Pd. Three types of platinum group minerals (PGM) were found by using an innovative hydroseparation technique: (i) primary PGM inclusions in fresh Cr-spinel (laurite and bowieite), (ii) secondary PGM (e.g., Ru-Fe-Os-Ir compounds) from weathering of preexisting PGM (e.g., serpentinization and/or laterization), and (iii) PGM precipitated after PGE mobilization within the laterite (neoformation). Our results provide evidence that (i) PGM occurrence and PGE enrichment in the laterite profiles is independent of chromitite incorporation; (ii) PGE enrichment is residual on the profile scale; and (iii) PGE are mobile on a local scale leading to in situ growth of PGM within limonite, probably by bioreduction and/or electrochemical metal accretion.

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Acknowledgments

This research has been financially supported by the Spanish projects CGL2009-10924, CGL2012-36263, and SGR 2009-444 as well as by a PhD grant and a travel grant to Leoben (estancia breve FPI 2012) to TA sponsored by the Ministerio de Economia y Competitividad (Spain). The authors gratefully acknowledge the help and hospitality extended by the staff of Falcondo mine (Falcondo Glencore). Excellent technical support during EPMA sessions by Dr. X. Llovet and during FESEM sessions by Eva Prats and Aránzazu Villuendas at the Serveis Cientificotècnics (University of Barcelona) is highly appreciated. The University Centrum for Applied Geosciences (UCAG) in Leoben is thanked for access to the E. F. Stumpfl electron microprobe laboratory. Louis Cabri and Vladimir Rudashevsky are greatly thanked for their help during installation of the HS-11 laboratory in Barcelona. We want to thank one anonymous referee and Prof. Bernd Lehmann for their constructive comments, suggestions, and editing.

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Aiglsperger, T., Proenza, J.A., Zaccarini, F. et al. Platinum group minerals (PGM) in the Falcondo Ni-laterite deposit, Loma Caribe peridotite (Dominican Republic). Miner Deposita 50, 105–123 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-014-0520-9

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Keywords

  • Ni-laterite
  • Platinum group elements
  • Platinum group minerals
  • Falcondo
  • Dominican Republic